[extropy-chat] cryonicist living life in reverse

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sun Mar 18 12:57:11 UTC 2007

On 3/16/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:

Well, I do feel a need to reassess my views on functionalism, but where
> do we start, exactly?  I think that in our world we ought to recognize
> that human thoughts are distinctly different and superior to the thoughts
> of dogs and monkeys, and vastly superior to the "thoughts" of bacteria
> and amoebas.  Panthetic beliefs that mountains and rivers have souls
> have not withstood modern criticism.  So we really should start from a
> point that declares at the outset dust and rocks to be unfeeling and
> completely inanimate things.
> The latest refuge for me---i.e., where I seem to have been driven
> by seeing no other way out---is to stipulate that computation must
> be accompanied by causality:  nothing shall be deemed a calculation
> (I use the words interchangably) which does not follow the usual
> kind of causal flows that we are familiar with in our daily lives.
> It is on this common sense basis that I reject notions of universal
> dovetailers, or notions that dust floating in space, or worse---that
> entirely arbitrarily made mappings---can in any way be rightly
> regarded as underlying computation or experience.

The common sense notion of computation and intelligence is safe if
functionalism is right. If computations are hidden in noise they remain just
that - hidden, as inaccessible to us as if they were in another universe or
at another level of implementation in a simulation. We can't affect them in
any way: if we blow up a rock, the computations that could be arbitrarily
mapped to the thermal motion of its atoms can as easily be mapped to the
newly configured rock dust. Therefore, scientists and ordinary folk need not
worry about this sort of stuff at all, because for all the observable
effects it has, it is as pointless as discussions about Eugen's (and other
religious mystics') angels on the head of a pin. Thus, there is no reason to
throw out functionalism on the grounds that inanimate objects don't talk to

There are, however, at least two interesting consequences of the everything
is a computation idea. One is that that the orderly universe we see may be a
simulation on one of these computers. The other is that although there may
be no possible physical interaction between separate universes, this poses
no impediment to the continuity of consciousness (or better, the illusion of
continuity of consciousness). If you die and a close enough copy is created
in another universe, you will feel that you have survived, even though
no-one from this universe will be able to reach you. An example of this is
the quantum immortality idea that the MWI of QM seems to imply.

Stathis Papaioannou
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